Hiring a Virtual Personal Assistant

When you think of Virtual Personal Assistant or Virtual PA (VPA’s) most people think offshore. But that’s not necessarily the case. A Virtual PA is someone who works for you remotely, whether that’s within your own state, or country, or overseas.

There are many benefits to engaging a VPA including:

  • save you time: delegate menial tasks freeing you up for more lucrative tasks;
  • save you money: on wages, sick leave, annual leave, office rent;
  • you don’t need an office, or a desk for the VPA: work from home, while you’re VPA works remotely;
  • only use VPA’s as you need them, with no fixed contracts;
  • switch between different VPA’s depending on the type of work and skill levels: such as admin, web design, social media marketing, telemarketing;

But there are two questions you need to ask yourself before you leap into a Google search and they are …

Are You Ready for a VPA?

A VPA can help you become more effective, more efficient, help you grow your business and save time. Instead of working on the menial parts of your business, like admin or bookkeeping, you could better spend your time attracting and engaging with your clients, and making money.

Can You Work with a VPA?

We all know that no one can be you, better than you. That goes for your VPA too. So, one of the big skills you need to learn when engaging any type of staff, is the art of “letting go”. That doesn’t mean that you should expect a lesser quality of work. It just means that no one can do a job as perfect as you may expect.

You also need to learn to delegate. There are many tasks in business that can be done by a VPA. And finally, you need to be able to give clear instructions and set deadlines.

So how do you find the right Virtual PA?

Hire the Right VPA

Local VPA’s can be found listed in the online Yellow Pages, trade listed websites and Google searches. Alternatively, there are several virtual staff websites, with the two most popular being UpWork (formerly ODesk) and Freelancer. These sites have staff located all over the world, with varying skills in different industries.

Advertising: make sure your job post clearly outlines what the position will be doing, your expectations and the skills you require. Include things like “must be fluent in English”, “must be available between 9am and 5pm Australian times”. A good tip is to request a keyword be included in the application, such as “I want to be an admin star”.

Narrowing the Applications: you will receive lots of applicants. Don’t waste precious time on looking at them all, instead be ruthless based on your job post. Those who have do not meet the criteria and have not included the keyword are unable to follow directions.

With the applications you have left, ask them all the same few questions. For example, provide samples of similar projects that you have worked on. How would you prioritise 3 tasks that all had the same deadline? This will help you to determine who’s more suited and who has just applied to anything that pops up.

Choose Location Wisely: this will depend somewhat on the requirements of the position. If you are in Australia and are engaging admin support, it makes sense that your VPA is available during business hours. You may want to look for applicants in Australia, New Zealand and Philipines.

If you require upgrades to your website, it’s probably best to do them overnight. India and Pakistan are on opposite time zones to Australia and are highly skilled in web design and technology.

Pay for What You Get: set your budget before you hire. Be clear on how much you have to spend weekly, or for the entire project.

Local VPA’s may offer time packages, whereas sites such as UpWork allow you to engage on an hourly, or a fixed rate. Don’t select your VPA based on price. And cheap is not always best. Quite often low hourly rates reflect lack of skill and experience. There are also quite a few overpriced VPA’s.

Be aware that most staffing websites are shown in American dollars, so you will need to convert to your currency.

Move on Quickly

Like any staff member, it takes time to learn a new job, build relationships and get used to each other’s working style. Monitor the performance and quality of your VPA. Provide feedback, including constructive criticism, so that they can learn and understand how to produce better results next time.

Unfortunately there are many VPA’s, but only a few are as skilled as they suggest. Don’t be disheartened if the first person you engage doesn’t work out. If your VPA isn’t able to follow instructions, isn’t willing to learn, or wastes time, then end the contract and move on to the next.

Conclusion

Good VPA’s are gold and worth investing the time into. Think of all staff whether they are employed, local, or overseas, as part of your team. Even if you only communicate through email or messages, show them respect, ask how their weekend was and always pay on time. In turn, you will get an invested VPA who will want to work for you.

So how do you successfully work with a Virtual Personal Assistant?